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Social Statistics and Data

The US Census of Population and Housing

Typical Demographic Statistics

  • Population counts
  • Race, ancestry, place of birth
  • Age
  • Sex

In addition to the basic demographic numbers above, many demographic sources also cover socioeconomic subjects such as employment, income, housing, migration, education, health, transportation, veteran and citizenship status, and language.

The US Census of Population and Housing (also known as the Decennial Census) is the most comprehensive source of demographic data for the United States. Quite simply, the Census is huge, and published in a multitude of formats and places. Below is a list of just some of the ways you can access decennial census data.

For more detail, consult the following guide...

US Census Catalog

For a complete list of all Census Bureau data publications, consult the Census Catalog. Current product listings are available online, while older volumes are available in print in the Research Library reference collection.

American Community Survey

To fill in the gaps between the main census years, the Census Bureau conducts the annual American Community Survey. The Survey began in 2000 and all reports are available on American Factfinder .

The Census also conducts the Current Population Survey in conjunction with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with reports going back more than 50 years. Recent reports are available online. Older reports in print can be found in the UCLA Library Catalog.

Public Use Microdata Samples

Most census data is presented as summary files, with pre-packaged tables. There are a lot of tables, but they're still finite in number, so they may not have a table with the exact cross-tabulations or groupings you'd like to see. So the Census Bureau also provides Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS), 1% and 5% samples of the encoded census forms with identifying information such as names and addresses removed. With appropriate statistical software, these can be used to create almost any table you'd like from the available data.

Like other Census products, there are a variety of ways to access PUMS data:

US Census Schedules

"Census schedules" is the term usually used to describe the actual census forms filled in by users and census-takes. By law these are kept private for seventy-two years. After that time, they're available from the National Archives on microfilm.

The UCLA Library has some of the census schedules, mostly for selected counties in California. They can be found in the UCLA Library Catalog. The Library also subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition, which has all of the available schedules online (off-campus access requires UCLA authentication).

For genealogical research, we recommend using the Los Angeles Regional Family History Center, which has comprehensive genealogy resources that go beyond just the census schedules.

Censuses from Other Countries

The UCLA Library print collections include censuses from many other countries, which you can find in the UCLA Library Catalog. Search for "[name] census" as "Subject List (start of)". Some sample searches: